The three-man deathsludge machine, known simply as Primitive Man, has dropped four new blistering tracks in the form of an EP entitled Insurmountable (Closed Casket Activities). Mixing funeral doom, black metal, and harsh noise elements, this powerhouse from Denver, Colorado is one of the most abrasive, yet satisfying bands out there. After thirty-eight minutes, any first listeners will certainly start working on the rest of the group’s discography.Continue reading
“It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be grey, and it’s gonna last you for the rest of your life.” I believe that was the famous Bill Murray quote when asked his opinion on Cavernlight’s latest, As I Cast Ruin Upon The Lens That Reveals My Every Flaw (Translation Loss). Nah, I’m just having a bit of fun with Cavernlight. Or maybe I’m not considering that even though it won’t “last you for the rest of your life” (the album barely cracks the forty-minute mark) the cold and grey remarks certainly apply here.
It’s time to enter a very dark place. Poland’s mysterious and enigmatic doom-jazz-post rock-funk project -S- return with their first full-length release since their 2013 untitled debut. Led by composer, bassist, vocalist Patyr, with Grzegorz supplying drums, Dom, w którym mieszkał Wąż (A House Where Dwelled A Snake) (I, Voidhanger) is like nothing else you’re likely to hear, and that includes the group’s debut. The album is four tracks and forty-one minutes of oppressive, threatening, slithering, funky doom. If that sounds like a wild trip, it is.
And don’t forget those clarinets!Continue reading
Emma Ruth Rundle – Orpheus Looking Back (Sargent House)
On the back of 2021’s exceptional Engine of Hell release, melancholic song-writer extraordinaire Emma Ruth Rundle cannot resist but cast one last longing look over her shoulder at the material prepared, written, and relating to that period, which included the break-up of a significant relationship – the subject of her previous, delicate, powerful full-length.
Consisting of three songs, each different in sound and style that didn’t completely fit with the dynamic of Engine…, Orpheus Looking Back nonetheless brings beauty in its wistful minimalism. ‘Gilded Cage’ is a strummed acoustic piece, ‘Pump Organ Song’ a spontaneous creation during the recording sessions on, well, a pump organ, while ‘St. Non’ is a breathy, guitar / vocal reflection.
While the format is less immersive than the previous full-length, Orpheus… is further example of Rundle’s class as a song-writer and ability to transfer emotion to bare music.
7 / 10
Emily Jane White – Alluvion (Talitres)
Taking a fuller approach to production, singer-songwriter Emily Jane White is reflecting on loss, grief and the impact of recent events on Alluvion, her downbeat and reflective sixth album.
Coaxing a gothic beauty to the underlying synths and minimal instrumentation, there is something of a gentle electro-pop feel to tracks like ‘Show Me The War’ and ‘The Hands Above Me’, a song that introduces subtle guitar peals and swells, and a hint of folk and shoegaze – as does the cello-backed ‘I Spent The Years Frozen’. ‘Mute Swan’ mixes in a repetitive eighties synth refrain with a comforting and underplayed vocal, and the standout track ‘Heresy’ is an ominous and effective duet with Darkher, with sparse chants recalling elements of Chelsea Wolfe.
There is plenty of scope in this reflective offering, as White’s intimate and open tones sit softly over the lush arrangements of multi-instrumentalist Anton Patzner and offer not just escape but hope amongst the darkness of our current situations.
7 / 10
Eight Bells – Legacy of Ruin (Prophecy Productions)
Patience is indeed a virtue, and good things doth verily come to those who are prepared to take their time dwelling in anticipation. It may be six years (and an overhaul of the supporting cast) since the last Eight Bells release, but the progressive, introspective vehicle of Melynda Jackson (guitars, vocals) is all the better for it. The addition of Cormorant’s Matt Solis works as a perfect counterfoil, either with harsh blackened backing vocals, or when chanting in unison with Jackson’s haunting, melancholic intonations. Solis also pops up in the spaces with as some interesting meandering bass runs, working intuitively with the atmospheres that Jackson creates.
This request for patience bears out in the individual tracks, too. Opener ‘Destroyer’ walks us through hints of progressive metal, psych, sludgy tones and touches of blackened cascades, before using a sparse guitar refrain to take us home and into the doomier, eleven-minute sprawl of ‘The Well’. Dynamically as a whole, this is further played out with the mid-album conjoined dreamy pair of ‘Torpid Dreamer’ and ‘Nadir’ combining and paying off; the former dark and doomed, with the latter bringing us through a moment of reflection to peace with its integrated dual vocals, at times reminiscent of a heavier Fleet Foxes – a feeling which is continued into ‘The Crone’, before the blackened elements of the Portland natives arsenal are unleashed.
And all of this is with the hulking presence of standout track, and album closer, ‘Premonition’ still to come; a summation of all the previous parts. Tremolo refrains scythe under a merging of howls and chants, before things settle, breathe and expand into a stately, melancholic close to moody, yet welcoming album.
8 / 10
Hangman’s Chair – A Loner (Nuclear Blast)
Tags and sub-genres, when misapplied, can be quite detrimental at times to bands. Not only are they misleading and mis-set expectations but can lead to people who would embrace and celebrate an act missing out on something that would be a perfect addition to their collection. France’s Hangman’s Chair have been labelled as Stoner and / or Doom (which in itself has a couple of different applications), yet there is nothing Desert or Weed-based here, as their sixth album A Loner continues the evolution and progression of their sound, and is a gorgeously reflective album of downbeat, shimmering Downer alternative rock, laced with moments of shoegaze.
Where there is anything sludgy, it is in some of the Stephen Carpenter / Deftones style looping, rolling low-slung supporting guitar moments, such as on ‘Cold and Distant’, a track that demonstrates Hangman’s Chair have a neat line in understated chorus, too, as does ‘Second Wind’. Moreover songs such as with the aptly titled ‘Supreme’, underline a Type O Negative influence that runs throughout, building in Life of Agony melodies and moments. Cédric Toufouti deals in layered vocals and lines of harmonies to support a voice that sits perfectly floating on top of the cinematic music, at times (‘Who Wants To Die Old’) reminiscent of Kristoffer Rygg.
Atmospheric and considered, the pairing of ‘Pariah & The Plague’ – a beautiful, layered non-vocal piece of music with tinkling guitar effects and brooding electronics – and the melancholy title track sum up the strengths of this unsung album.
8 / 10
There may not be a “classic” doom metal genre, officially (is there really an official subgenre list of heavy metal?), but when I think of the classic doom metal sound, I think of the UK style. Super beefy guitar riffs, slowed down tempo, lyrics about the occult and psychedelics, and of course, clean high end pitched vocals to tie it all together. Friends of Hell does just that on their self-titled debut album (Rise Above). Tas Danazoglou (Satan’s Wrath/ex-Electric Wizard), and vocalist Albert Witchfinder (Opium Warlords/ex-Reverend Bizarre) are the driving force behind this doom machine and seems like that is all that is needed.
“Hell yes…!” Those were my very first thoughts upon hearing the new Konvent. This new cut Call Down The Sun (Napalm Records) grabbed right from the beginning.The new offering is an awesome blend of doom, black and death all wrapped up in a brutal display of metal prowess.
Vexier, the sophomore full-length from Switzerland’s enigmatic post-metal / doomgaze / experimental rock outfit E-L-R (Prophecy Productions), is a record that takes its time to get where it needs to. The record features five tracks spanning a total of 45 minutes; the shortest song is more than six-and-a-half minutes.
Considering that music, and life in general, has become increasingly less local and much more globally accessible and transferable, it is powerful and interesting that there is something intrinsically locked to a place about certain bands and musical styles. And, accepting their protagonists were forging recorded Metal identities since 2000 when there was more of some semblance of “local” and “scene”, it is fair to say that Kuolemanlaakso are undeniably and gloriously Finnish, with national metal musical traits from the land of the thousand lakes littered in abundance throughout their third album, Kuusumu (Svart Records).
From the swamps of Louisiana, legendary New Orleans sludgelords Crowbar return with another collection of songs so uncompromisingly heavy that each one arrives with its own gravitational pull. As entirely expected, Zero and Below (MNRK Heavy), the band’s twelfth full-length studio release pulls absolutely no punches, delivering even more high-quality riffage with the same single-minded determination that saw them smash their way onto the scene over thirty years ago.